On The Difference Between Cohesion And Adhesion

Less than a month shy of ten years ago I started writing this particular blog, and one of the more consistent questions I get asked is why I chose the title I did. As it happens, there is a good and easy answer to that question. Some time before starting the blog I had read a fantastic book called War And Peace And War, which looked at the process by which groups became powerful empires, and the author discussed edge induced cohesion as a process by which people joined together on both sides of particularly serious boundaries between implacable civilizational enemies. Besides this, I have long been interested in the cohesion, or lack of cohesion, that exists within societies, communities, institutions, and families, influenced no doubt by my own experiences in my own personal family as well as my experiences since childhood in the Church of God, all of which have become enduring conversation topics and influenced the timing and nature of my various writing ventures over the course of my life.

What is cohesion, though? It is the joining together of similar (or even identical) elements in larger wholes. This is not something that can be assumed. Not all matter engages in cohesion. For example, dry sugar crystals show a markedly low cohesion and can easily be poured from one container to another without any difficulty. On the other hand, sugar that has been moistened and then dried has considerable cohesion thanks to the effect of water and can be considered as a brick-like substance. The same mixture can be found in rice when it is in its normal state or when it has been vacuum sealed and thus forced to cohere with other rice grains. It is quite telling that soon after my own blog was started, a former friend of mine started a short-lived blog called Truth Induced Adhesion, thinking that he and his confederates were joined together by truth, which was quite mistaken, and also thinking that adhesion was a good thing and that cohesion was a bad thing.

This is lamentably not the case either. Adhesion is the joining together of different things that are not normally joined together. There are certainly some positive examples of adhesion, such as the way that things can be connected together by tape or glue or some other means that we want to tie together even if they would not join together if left to their own devices. In the human body or in the body politic, though, adhesion is definitely usually a very bad thing, in that it typically results from wounds of some kind and can create serious problems as parts of the body or different groups of people connect together that would not normally and should not normally connect together. The results can be serious injury or even death because what is connected together are things that should be separate for the benefit of both and of the body as a whole. Cohesion joins things together that are alike, although sometimes it can be more convenient for them to remain distinct, while adhesion joins things together that are unlike and which likely should not be joined together because of their inequality.

The larger question, though, is why I would think of my own writing as being an issue of edge induced cohesion, or why despite the changes of life that have come in the past decade that it remains a very true picture of my writing and my own personal approach to matters relating to politics and questions of authority and legitimacy on various levels. In general I consider myself someone whose relationship with others is frequently ambivalent. If I am very much someone who serves in whatever institutions and communities I find myself in, I tend to think of myself as someone who is fairly independent of others, and frequently desirous of being more so. Now, perhaps this is not an accurate understanding, but I have always tended to see myself as being an outsidery sort of insider, someone quite capable of reaching out and dealing with those outside and defending boundaries while also using such insider knowledge I have for the purposes of serving and helping others. By and large, I hope this blog reflects my experience as well as my personal goals and aspirations and approach to life.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to On The Difference Between Cohesion And Adhesion

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    I pray for the time when you will be able to move beyond “edge-induced” cohesion. I would love for your cohesion to be pure, seamless and flowing. This will be necessary in order to begin rising above ambivalent relationships and an independent mentality.

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